By Chris Metcalf/LCAA’S FINEST on Facebook, photos by Steve Harrison and Lindsey Meys
GENESEO – Up until the 17:50 mark of the second half, the Livonia boys were dominating much of their Section V Class B semifinal against LCAA rival Hornell.
But then Jack Emo and the Red Raiders came to life.
The super-talented senior forward with incredible skills put Hornell on his back and scored two quick goals and then added a late assist in OT as the No. 3 seeded Raiders rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the thrilling 3-2 victory over No. 2 Livonia Wednesday night at Don DeBadts Field in Geneseo.
Hornell improved to 13-3-1 and will play Bishop Kearney at 1 p.m. Saturday at Geneseo HS in the Class B finals.
Livonia had opened their two-goal lead in the first half when Nick Coyle fed Colin Ullock with a perfect pass and then a one-touch strike that gave the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead.
On the play, the junior Ullock made the steal of the ball at the 50, dished to the corner to the junior Coyle, who sent it back to the crossing Ullock for the well-executed goal midway through the first half.
It stayed that way until early in the second half when Keegan Dennis, a skillful senior, knocked one through after a corner kick that pushed the Bulldogs lead to 2-0, seemingly taking the wind out of Hornell’s sails.
Not so fast.
With about 25 minutes left in regulation, Hornell started to come alive, led by Emo and company as the Raiders would pick up the tempo on the offensive end.
Emo’s first goal, a 30-yard rocket into the upper left corner, would cut the deficit to 2-1 with 17:50 left in regulation.
Just five minutes later, Emo, who leads Section V with 37 goals and 10 assists, would score again, this time on a penalty kick following a handball in the box after an Emo shot off a Livonia player with 17 minutes left.
Hornell continued to control much of the final 15 minutes and almost won it late in regulation when Emo found Pasquale Picco with a nice pass that Picco drilled to the left side that the Livonia keeper made an excellent save on as the ball caromed off the football goal past and immediately back to Emo who put it through with under a minute left.
But, after the officials conversed, the goal was disallowed, rightfully so.
Hornell’s golden goal came shortly after.
And it once again started with a pass from Emo to Picco in the left corner, who found his brother Gennaro Picco running towards the goal as Gennaro drilled it home on a one-touch with the game-winner sending Hornell players and their fans into a frenzy.
Hornell coach Jim Tobin made what ended up being the coaching move of the night when his team was trailing by two goals.
Tobin put Gennaro Picco, who started at sweeper, to the forward spot, and the move paid dividends with Picco’s fourth goal of the year, and obviously his biggest.
While Hornell celebrated their comeback, on the other side, Livonia players, in disbelief, were hitting the turf with their hands over their faces, wondering what just happened.
“We let it get away,” Livonia coach Ray Maxwell said. “Fabulous first 60 minutes. Then a monumental collapse. This one will hurt for a long time.”
Livonia finished their season 16-2-1.
It was the third meeting between the two LCAA powerhouses.
Livonia won 1-0 Sept. 23 while the two teams tied 1-1 Oct. 12.
Maxwell, who earned his 551st career victory this fall, which includes 16 Section V titles, is going to miss this year’s team, especially the seniors.
“We have several seniors that will be dearly missed,” Maxwell said. “This was one of the best teams we’ve ever had and possibly the best. They knocked the ball around beautifully. We were solid in every position. An absolute pleasure to coach.”
STEVE HARRISON PHOTO GALLERY:
Lindsey Meys Photography